Summary: Some think they have a grasp on their future and what is best for them. Truly only God knows what is best for us, we must concede to His leadership.
THE PLAN OF OUR HEARTS
It has been over 4 months since I have preached a sermon, For ten years I preached almost every week, sometimes two different messages and at least four revivals that I can remember doing. Being away from the pulpit has made me long for the Word, presented with passion, and has opened me to hearing God’s message in my own life. I have noticed that in my own life many changes occurred that perhaps many of you here today can relate to. I started ministry with a passion to be molded and shaped in whatever ways God wanted me to be shaped and molded, but I readily admit that through the years I became set, hardened, like pottery put in the oven, I became hardened. The Bible tells us, that God wants us to have, or offer to Him a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart. (Psalms 51:17) In other words it is hard for God to mold us if we have hardened, it is difficult to be used if we are not properly shaped, and we can no longer be shaped if we think we have all the answers, and know what the plan should be.
One of my favorite passages is in Proverbs 16, verse 9 reads “In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” We as a people want have the answers, we want to have the plan, BUT it is God that will make the end product, we are simply to be the vessel.
A young woman brought her fiance home to meet her parents for thanksgiving dinner. After dinner, her mother told her father to find out about the young man. The father invited the fiance to his study for a talk. "So what are your plans?" the father asked the young man. "I am a biblical scholar," he replied. "A Biblical scholar. Hmmm," the father said. "Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in?" "I will study," the young man replied, "and God will provide for us." " And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?" asked the father. "I will concentrate on my studies," the young man replied, "God will provide for us." "And children?" asked the father. "How will you support children?" "Don’t worry, sir, God will provide," replied the fiance. The conversation proceeded like this, and each time the father questioned, the young idealist insisted that God would provide. Later, the mother asked, "How did it go, Honey?" The father answered, "He has no job and no plans, and he thinks I’m God!" The truth is that God will provide, He will lead and direct, and show mercy and judge, and He wants to use you and I to do His work if we are willing to let Him. This morning we will be looking at a story that is very familiar to most everyone here, the story of Jonah, so if you have your Bibles with you this morning turn with me that we might look together at keys verse from a story most of us have heard from childhood.
Jonah 1:1-3 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." 3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
The WORD came to Jonah, have you ever had this happen to you? Have you ever been sitting in church on a Sunday and heard God speak to your heart? Have you ever been in prayer and heard God speak to your heart? Perhaps like me, in retrospect you can see that it has happened many times, but perhaps it didn’t fit with your plans, perhaps like Jonah, you didn’t really want the task, change, or adjustment in your life at that moment, so you ran. Now I think that this story has so much more than the things we remember as children. I believe that this little story tells us about getting back to the place where our God can use us to be the children, the tools and the Christians He wants us to be. I think one of the most important details that might be overlooked in the story comes in the first chapter. After Jonah runs by getting on a boat and sailing away, the seas get rough. Listen to these verses;
Jonah 1:7-12 Then the sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 So they asked him, "Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?" 9 He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land." 10 This terrified them and they asked, "What have you done?" (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.) 11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?" 12 "Pick me up and throw me into the sea," he replied, "and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you."